Looking Forward: MMOs in 2013, Part 1
A great many of my friends are in to RPGs, whether they be tabletop or video games but in recent years, possibly due to what I call the ‘World of Warcraft Effect’, more people have been taking interest in what MMOs are out there and if there are any that suit their gaming styles and more importantly, the spec of their computer. Accessibility has been key to the success of things like WoW, in both learning-curve and owning a PC or laptop that will run the game without having to spend a fortune on top-of-the-line equipment. Let’s forget subscription and Free-to-Play for a while, because I genuinely don’t think that it’s as an important factor as everyone makes it out to be when it comes down to finding a game we really like the look and sound of. If we like it, we can afford it and it’s worth it, we’ll pay for it, it’s pretty simple.
The world of MMOs in 2013 is lining up to be pretty varied with it’s offerings, but let’s take a look at some of my main ‘ones to watch. Take a look at my picks after the jump:
The Elder Scrolls Online
Many video game fans are hesitantly excited about this one, with the tremendous success of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim in 2011/12 and the rabid fandom that accompanies previous Elder Scrolls titles and the rise in popularity of the massively multi-player format in recent years, it was only a matter of time before Bethesda turned this particular IP in this direction. The game was announced last year just before E3, turning some die-hard fans off completely, with some even saying that the move to an MMO would never work and potentially ruin the Elder Scrolls franchise forever. I on the other hand think that the already existing rich and in-depth history and lore available in TES should make it easier to create something epic, but with the high-quality experience that we’ve already come to associate with it due to Skyrim and Oblivion.
It would be unfair to say I have high expectations of the game, I’m nervous about it because the last game I got exited about with a great IP and bags of potential turned out to be SWTOR and I just don’t know if I can cope with that kind of disappointment again. However, some reviewers have already had the opportunity to get hands-on with some of the game at the end of last year. Reading the resulting articles has been interesting as most parties went in to the play-test with a large list of fears, that by the end of it were completely assuaged. Most of them put this down to the quality of play, the consistency of tone in relation to the rest of the franchise and the rich and engaging surroundings implemented so far. With it being Bethesda, I get the feeling that this isn’t going to be a small-budgeted affair, with it clearly being one of their most important offerings to date they’re probably employing the ‘Go Hard or Go Home’ ethos on this one.
There is no current Beta information other than that there will be one and their support section on the website mentions that TESO will be available for PC and Mac, but with no other mention of current system requirements. One thing I do know is that it’s probably going to take a pretty beefy rig to run this beauty, if the spec to run Skyrim on the PC on Ultra/High graphics settings are anything to go by. The game is scheduled for a Fall 2013 release, do I think it’ll hit that for release? It’s hard to say given the time and resources going in to the project, however I’m going to take a punt and say it’s more likely to see the light of day in Winter 2013/14.
The first multi-platform shooter MMO, that in a ground-breaking entertainment experience, interconnects with a global television program.
So their obvious selling point for Defiance that sets it apart from other MMOs is that they’re tying it in to a TV show, which they’re saying will add to the scope, story and drama of the game world. There have been mentions that somehow actions made in game may have an effect on the happenings of the TV show, exactly how they plan to do this or on what scale is currently unknown, but I imagine it can’t possibly be anything with major impact as the Internet will take that as a challenge to mess around, guaranteed.
The setting for Defiance is one of the post-apocalyptic sci-fi variety, set in the near future, where aliens known collectively as Votans have come to Earth seeking a new home after their star system was destroyed. Obviously humanity doesn’t care about their plight and sort of leaves the refugees to rot in their ships surrounding Earth. Eventually the Votans, in their desperation to survive, start an invasion of the planet which results in all-out war, with shot-down Votan ships crashing in to Earth and causing a catastrophic terraforming accident that completely changes the face of the planet forever. After decades of fighting, both heavily beleaguered sides, call a ceasefire; those remaining are factionalized in a world where governments are a thing of the past and everyone looks out for themselves. Clearly a lot has gone in to the development of the background for this joint endeavour, there are plenty of ‘Making of’ videos about the TV series featuring fancy prosthesis, make-up, impressive sets and costume; even new spoken and written alien languages. More recent media has left people with a distinctly Firefly feeling to the offering, which has caused some curiosity and some displeasure.
All of this probably sounds like an awful lot of set up, that could be heading for an awfully big fall because it seems they’re setting their sights on blurring the lines between the MMO platform and the Shooter genre. It’s being developed for the PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation3, in what they hope will be a unifying, cross-platform experience; however there are no current recommended spec for the PC version. Beta testing is pretty imminent at this stage, in fact I received an invite to be part of a server stress test for today but it’s a 3 hour window on PST so it’s a no-go for me. The release date scheduled for Defiance is set at April this year, as part of a side-by-side launch with the TV show, lets hope to be surprised in a good way with this one when it lands.
Next up is the relatively well-known Dungeons & Dragons, Forgotten Realms location of Neverwinter coming to the world of MMOs, being made by Cryptic Studios, however this game isn’t going to be part of the Neverwinter Nights series. It will take place in a time when the city is plunged into chaos after the disappearance of the last Lord of Neverwinter. A spellplague and a primordial almost destroy Neverwinter, as seen in the novel Gauntlgrym, so those that remain struggle for dominance over the populace as the dead begin to rise and attack the city.
The game will be based around a modified version of the Dungeons & Dragons 4th edition rule set. This will include the use of healing powers and action points, the latter of which will be implemented through a system referred to as Dailies, allowing a player to perform an extra special ability upon accumulating enough action points through combat. According to a press release, players will become one of five classic Dungeons & Dragons classes and be able to band together in standard groups of five player characters, then adding in some NPCs for good measure. What really seems to be exciting some gamers is the talk of a player-created content system codenamed “Foundry” will allow players to create their own stories and quests for the game. According to reports the game gives you a basic attack, three regular moves, a dodge/block/utility move, and two “daily” moves (though calling them ‘daily’ is a bit of a misnomer as I understand as they can be used more than once a day); the dungeon put forward for demo purposes is described as intense and as you’d expect from something D&D-based, with traps and secret passageways for you to discover as you wind your way through. PvE content is thoroughly accounted for so far, but when questioned about PvP content the developers say that there is none planned for launch, which is probably due to the fact that it’s something that they definitely need to get right when they release it as PvP players can be very unforgiving; but so far Cryptic and Perfect World are settling for getting PvE content fleshed-out first.
The full system requirements are yet to be determined and there is no concrete Beta information so far, other than that you can sign up for it now with a chance to be selected when it does begin. Neverwinter is scheduled to be released in Early 2013, with progress on the game looking good from Dev updates, chances of it being released this year are high.
So, that’s my look at three big titles that are coming our way, however I’m not done just yet. In my next update I’ll be looking at three more upcoming MMOs you’ll likely be interested in, such as: FireFall, WildStar and City of Steam. I’ll also throw in some ‘Honourable Mentions’ in to the mix, if you have any MMOs you’d like included in this section then please let me know and I’ll do my best to include them!